Judy Blume and Freckle Juice

Thursday I told Hubby I wanted to make a trip into Key West to visit a couple of place on my "list".  Yes, although I'm not very organized, I have an ongoing list of things I want to do while in the Florida Keys this year.  I've actually explored a bit and grabbed some brochures and one of the places I wanted to visit was a little book store, Books & Books at The Studios of Key West.  This adorable little shop is not only a book store but also carries art supplies and I spent an hour in there before I knew it!

The night before we went to the book store, we ate dinner with a friend and she mentioned off hand that 
Judy Blume had a home in Key West and was often seen out and about in town and doing signings at the book store.  I commented on how cool that was and really didn't think much about it again.  Until I lifted my head after perusing books for an hour and made my way to the cash register to check out.  As I glanced up I had to take a double take; it was Judy Blume talking to someone and signing a book for them!  Well, I told the lady to go ahead and ring my items up but I would be back.  I ran to the bookshelves to grab one of her books to have her sign and suddenly a book jumped out at me, Freckle Juice!  I pulled it off the shelf and ran over to get in line behind the people she was already signing for. You see, Parker Ann is my cute little freckle-faced granddaughter and I always comment on that because she's the cutest thing with her big blue eyes, freckles sprinkled across her face and missing front teeth.  I told Judy about her and she signed this book for her...
               My day was absolutely made and I cannot wait to give Parker Ann this treasure!


When Things Go Too Far: Shame on Michelle Wolf!

I only keep up with the news because most days Hubby either leaves the television on in the mornings or he clicks it on in the afternoon.  Otherwise, I have taken to not watching much of it because of the negativity.  I did, however, hear about the White House Correspondents' Dinner the last night and was absolutely appalled by the treatment of Sarah Sanders.

I read an article about how, as a representative of the White House, Sarah Sanders was in attendance at the White House Corespondents' Dinner.  She deals with the press on a daily basis and I know that she has had to put up with some push back from many of them.  Even about her pecan pie.  However, the things comedian Michelle Wolf had to say about Sanders with her only feet away were abhorrent.

People, let me just put this out there:  Hurtful, hateful things are not funny.  And that is the only place that these sort of remarks can come from; pure hatred.  And why?  Because she is a conservative, republican?  Because she works for President Trump?  Do any of these things warrant another individual coming out and not only criticizing the manner in which one does their job but also one's appearance?  Making fun of their name, even?  Attacking them, in essence. I have to stop and wonder about people who do these sort of things and carry this sort of hate around with them.  How were they raised?  I know for a fact that if any one of my (adult) children pulled a stunt like that I would turn them over my knee!

What it took for Sanders to sit there and take every insult that was thrown at her is commendable on her part.  And probably not something that any of us would be capable of doing.  I know that I would have either gotten up and left quietly or gone out in a flame of glory as I screamed, hollered and stomped my feet right then and there!  OK, so you now know why I'm not in the public eye.  But think for just a moment about how you would feel sitting in a room,  full of people watching you be publicly bullied.  And folks, that's exactly what it was; bullying.  And not one person stopped it then and there.  Oh, they have come out today against it, but why didn't anyone have the courage to stop it while it was in progress?  Because, we have become numb to what is right and what is wrong.  Our moral compass has gone way off track as we have become more and more tolerant of those who do these sort of things in the name of comedy or their 1st Amendment Rights.  I know, I know, some have declared,"It was a Roast."  Y'all, she wasn't Roasted, she was burnt to a crisp.

She sat there, held her head high and absorbed everything that was said about her.  And then she left. Went home and in the privacy of her home probably shed some tears.  I don't know this to be true but I imagine that's what any of us would have done had we been attacked so vehemently.  Sarah Sanders has more class and beauty than any of those hate mongers and I would just like to say, "Shame on you, Michelle Wolf, shame on you."

Sunsets and Champagne

Whenever we decided to travel back to the Florida Keys for a longer period of time this year, I told Hubby that I had a list of the best places to see sunsets.  My intention was to take photos in each location so I could later print and frame them.  Now, seeing a sunset may not be a big deal for you but y'all, the sunsets here are just gorgeous and not to be missed if you ever find yourself here.  I packed  my camera and set out for the first location, Malory Square in Key West.

We called and made a reservation at a restaurant outside on the dock and settled in to watch the sunset.  I also had decided that I would watch each of these "best" sunsets with a glass of champagne to celebrate God's handiwork and show gratitude for another day.  So, I got my champagne and we ordered our meal and then literally TONS of people crowded out on the dock in front of us.  All we saw were the back sides of them instead of the sunset that evening.  Needless to say, I was not too happy about that.

  Let me explain something here.  When I set out to do something I will not be deterred.  Call it determined, obsessed or whatever you will; a few days later we headed back to Malory Square.  With camera in hand we made our way down to the dock early, I grabbed another glass of champagne and then got right next to the railing so I could get some photos.  Very quickly people began to crowd in behind me but I didn't budge; I was going to get my photos this time!

And then the sun began to set and I started snapping some photos in succession because I love to see the different stages of a sunset.  Then suddenly a few clouds appeared and there went my sun; behind them (sigh...).  I did get a couple of great shots though and I'm happy with them.

I suppose I will check Malory Square off of my list for now and move on to one of the other locations on my list...

Little Cigar Shop in Key West

When I was a little girl my grandma kept things in cigar boxes.  I thought they were so neat, magical if you will.  They were a little hard to open if the lid was mashed in but you never knew what sort of treasure you were going to find inside.  They don't make boxes like that anymore, they make a more modern kind that just don't seem as magical to me, perhaps it's the fact that I'm a grown up now...nah, it's the box.  Anyway, I'm talking about cigar boxes because on a little jaunt to Key West the other day, as we were walking down the street we were about to pass a cigar shop and as I turned around Hubby had stopped to peruse.  Well, at least I though he had just stopped to peruse because as far as I was aware of he didn't smoke cigars.
I followed him inside and he was actually looking at the cigars seriously as I was looking at the way they had the cigars displayed.  I thought they were artfully arranged so I pulled my camera out and snapped a few pretty neat photos.

                                          Welcome to The Island Cigar Factory in Key West!

 Look at all of those cigars!  I love the way they are displayed.  The red coupled with browns and blacks.
                                These wooden boxes that the cigars are displayed in are so cool.
                                                     Each cigar is individually wrapped.
                                         And this sign on top of these cigars says it all; Cuba!

So, as I finished up taking photos I looked over at Hubby who was now seriously talking to the gal in the shop about cigars.  Huh?  Next thing I know he's buying three of them.  I think well, I guess he's maybe getting them for a friend, perhaps a souvenir?  But when we got home, I went to get dressed for dinner and walked out of the bedroom looking around for Hubby.  I glanced out on the balcony only to find him smoking a stogie.  Oh my dear goodness...he's taking this "When in Rome" thing a little too far I think.

Fishing in The Florida Keys & Reese's Book Club Reading

We are settling in here in Cudjoe Key.  Got all unpacked and bought groceries.  Right now our lazy days consist of Hubby fishing and me reading.  For now that's just fine with me.  Yesterday as Hubby was leaving for fishing I called out, "Bring dinner home!"  And he did.

So while he was fishing, I was reading.  I usually only use my Kindle to read on but I decided I wanted to hold a real book in my hand so I grabbed a few to bring along with me.  I was walking through Marshall's one day before I left and came upon A Wrinkle in Time just laying there.  It's one of the books I never read when taking a children's literature course in college but always wanted to.  I picked it up for just a few dollars and yes, I know it's a movie now but there is just something about the written word AND there are follow-up books that I can read too!

And then I found out that Reese Witherspoon has a book club...What?!  How did I not know this?  Anyway, as I was scrolling through Instagram one day I noticed that she was holding up a book and mentioned that it was her new book club selection.  So I googled it (of course...) and found an entire list of books that she had recommended on Instagram which all sound great (and several I had already read).  There are 15 that I'm really interested in so as I was shopping in Sam's Club one day I found a copy of The Light We Lost and am currently reading it AND A Wrinkle in Time simultaneously.  FYI, if you are looking for great children's books and adult novels go to Sam's Club; they have the BEST books at great prices!  Now is the perfect time to start making your summer reading list so check out Reese's picks!

Life in The Keys...I could sure get use to this!


Arriving in Cudjoe Key

We drove for 2 days and finally arrived in Cudjoe Key Sunday afternoon late.  It was a long drive from Louisiana with bouts of heavy rain along the way.  But well worth it to wake up to sunshine in the sky, a warm breeze and soul soothing water within eye's distance from our balcony.

It is so peaceful here; the quite and solitude.  Not even a lot of noise as I sit outside.  I can hear the fronds of the palm leaves being blown by the wind; occasionally the hum of a car as it passes in the distance.

I was totally at odds whenever we booked our trip for 2 months this year because my mother was either dying or had just passed away.  I can't remember which because I seemed to have drifted around in a daze for well over a month after her death.  But Hubby knew.  He knew that this would be just what I (we) needed.  A calm in the storm so to speak.  And for his intuitive foresight, I am thankful.

Often times it takes me a while to settle into a new place but this place felt like home instantly and I sleep well during a rainy night and awoke to the sun shining brightly.  As I try to make it through this grieving process, I am attempting to take care of myself, almost habitually if you will.  I'm trying to set new patterns and habits that are good for me.  Thinking of the good instead of dwelling on my sadness.  So, I got up and fixed myself a cup of warm lemon juice that I have been drinking every morning and then settled into a session of yoga (I brought my mat so that I could do this daily either here, by myself, or in a studio nearby.)  The soft music coupled with the flow had me feeling really pretty good.  That is until I laid completely still during savasana.  The words and music began to play and for some reason my mother's face popped into my head and tears began to flow down my cheeks.  It's the first time that has happened during yoga for me, although others have said it's happened to them; deep emotions being pulled to the surface.  I told myself it was OK; that grieving is just a normal process.  Just move with the ebb and flow of it.

I got up and grabbed a cup of coffee, my Bible and study books and made my way to the upper deck where I sat reflecting.  And truth be told, I could sit up there all day long with the gently breeze blowing its warmness across my face.  And I may just do that some days.  Well, at least while Hubby is either fiddling with his fishing gear or fishing.  But I must say that I do believe that this place is pretty perfect and I intend to soak up every bit of it for the next couple of months.


Blueberries, Butter and Lickin' the Bowl

Whenever I got married and moved away from home, it wasn't long before I was right back next door to my mother...for about 13 years.  You see, we didn't have a lot of money and had a baby on the way.  We wanted to move out of our apartment so we purchased a mobile home and plopped it down on portion of the land my mother owned.

Living next door to my mother had it's advantages for sure.  She and my step-father grew several huge gardens every year.  There were always fresh vegetables to be had and a hot pone of cornbread on the stove.  My kids grew up eating out of those gardens so they ate pretty healthy for the most part.  Along with the gardens, my mother had a fruit orchard.  There were all sorts of fruits to be found growing out there but one of my favorites were the blueberries.  

There were always a lot of blueberries each year, so many that my mother gave me her homemade muffin recipe and we would fold those fresh blueberries into the mixture to make the most delicious blueberry muffins you have ever tasted.  Last week as I was looking through my cookbook, I came upon that recipe and was so excited because you see, it had been years since I made those muffins.  I'm pretty sure all of the kids were still at home and that was back when I wasn't so worried about consuming carbs or my weight in general.  But whenever I found that recipe...nothing else mattered except making a batch of them.

Now, the blueberries weren't blooming yet so I went to the grocery store and bought some.  I waited until Sunday afternoon when everything was slow and lazy and I began to take all of the ingredients out.  Hubby, who was watching The Masters, kept looking over toward the kitchen and finally asked, "What are you making?"  I asked him if he remembered those homemade blueberry muffins I used to make and he nodded.  "That's what I'm making", I said.

I thought perhaps I should share the recipe with y'all but first there are a couple of things you must do if you decided to make these muffins:
     .You must use fresh blueberries.
     .You must lick the beaters and bowl after you pop them in the oven.
     .You definitely must eat them hot, right out of the oven with a big ole pat of butter on them.
Now, if you think you can abide by all of those musts, then let's get to it and make some of the yummiest blueberry muffins you will ever put in your mouth!


1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (5 1/3 T.)
1/2 cu milk
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

 Rinse the blueberries and leave to drain while  pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees and mixing the    
 other ingredients.

Beat the butter and sugar together.

Add vanilla and egg.  Beat well.  Then begin to add flour and milk alternately a little at a time.

Before folding blueberries in gently with a spoon, toss them in sugar.

 Spray the muffin pans and bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven until golden brown.

Pop them out on a plate while still hot.

Slice them open and put butter on them.


FREE Downloadable Kitchen Prints

I don't know about you, but I am always on the lookout for unique decorative items for my home.  With the farmhouse trend these days, I have found some great prints to purchase and frame.  There are a variety of themes to be found:  holiday, family, religious.  Today, I am offering a look at the most adorable kitchen prints!  There are a total of 28 to choose from and one for every type of home decor out there.  And...they are absolutely FREE to you!  Here are a few of my favorites:
These prints of herbs are just lovely.  Each printed separately can make a great collage for the kitchen and I'm thinking of printing them off on watercolor paper to add some texture to them.

Are you a wine lover?  Possibly have a wine rack in your kitchen?  How unique would this print be to frame and put above it?

Coffee Bars are the latest trend for homes and this print would be ideal to include with a collage of other farmhouse items.

I don't know what it is about lemons.  Perhaps it has something to do with my maiden name being Lemmons or the fact that I love lemonade on a hot summer day or that lemons have such a refreshing, clean scent.  Whatever the reason, I LOVE anything to do with lemons!  This is definitely a must-have print for me.

Another great idea for these prints is to download them and have them framed for gifts.  Mother's Day is coming up and what about a birthday present or even putting them away for Christmas gifts?  The possibilities are endless and I'm so excited to have such an awesome opportunity at the click of my fingers!

How To Help Your Kids Make Healthy Choices

Henry Moore from Fit Well Traveler  is back as a guest blogger today with such a great article on how to get your kids to make healthy choices.  With obesity being such a problem these days, not only with adults but children as well, it would only make sense that we teach our children at a young age how to make healthy choices so that bad ones don't become instilled in them.  Henry offers some really great tips which if turned into habits could serve the next generation well  as prevention for not having serious obesity-related health issues.

As a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. It’s your responsibility as the adult to raise your child to make great choices. When helping your child live a healthy lifestyle, it comes down to diet and exercise. Below, we’ve listed some tips on how to help your child stay healthy and active throughout his childhood and into adult life.

Eat breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We know that mornings can be busy while you get ready for work. Aim for a couple of days a week to try and make it fun with some healthy delicious options. Instead of oatmeal or a bowl of cereal, try whipping up some scrambled eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast. Or, you could teach your kids to use a blender so they can make their own smoothies in the morning. They can add in fun fruit such as strawberries, bananas, blackberries or blueberries. 

Limit sweetened beverages

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 30 percent of kids in the United States consume two or more sugary beverages a day. When kids consume that much sugar on a daily basis, they are more prone to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cavities and high cholesterol. Watch how much sugar your child has on any given day. Beverages including sodas, juices, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened teas and coffees can contain a high amount of sugar and should be limited. Instead, try having your child drink more water or milk to help them stay hydrated without all the added sugar.

Don’t put a television in their bedroom

Is your child performing poorly in school or not sleeping well at night? The television in their bedroom may be the culprit. When your child watches TV in his or her bedroom, you aren’t aware of what they’re watching and for how long. To curb this unhealthy habit, take the television out of their room and only allow them to watch it in the living room. This will encourage them to pursue other healthy hobbies or interests at night, such as reading. 

Serve fruits and vegetables daily

The amount of fruit and vegetables your child should consume on a daily basis will depend on their age. Toddlers need approximately one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables every day, while 9-13-year olds need about one and a half servings of each a day. Fruits can include apples, bananas and grapes. Vegetables can include broccoli, peas, carrots and corn. The more color, the better. 

Exercise regularly

Your child should try to get at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis. While this may seem like a lot, your child is probably already achieving this. Exercise can include bike riding, gymnastics, playing soccer, or riding around the neighborhood on their Razor scooter. If your child isn’t getting enough exercise, try and take them outside more often. Go to the park and throw a Frisbee around or sign them up for a sport after school, such as tennis. Getting them used to physical activity is the important part, but remember to have fun! 

If you follow the above recommendations, you can help your child grow up to make the best choices for themselves. By introducing regular physical activity and a good diet early on, it will help them live their best life.

Photo: Unsplash

Hop On Over To Get Free Fun Themed Spring Worksheets!

Spring is here and boy am I happy about the warmer weather!  Spring Break for teachers and students is either over or almost over and those kiddos are beginning to feel restless as they can surely feel that summer vacation is only months away.  Keep them interested in learning by offering something new.  Having fun and learning can be achieved by using themed activities.  That's why today I am offering a FREE SPRING activity page for kids that teachers, parents AND kids will love!  Children can practice their spelling skills with this fun word search activity and you can also visit Education.com for more awesome themed activities to keep your child interested and engaged in learning throughout the entire year!


Little Treasures Everywhere

Whenever I was three years old, my parents built a house in the country where we promptly moved right out of the city neighborhood where I was born.  Little did I know that in three more years time my father would pass away and life as I knew it would totally change.

These were the 60's.  Just the beginning of the women's liberation movement and moms going into the workforce.  When my dad died, my mother had to return to work.  But first she had to get a job quickly.  She became a worker in the lunchroom at my elementary school.  While at night she completed her GED.  Then she enrolled in nursing school and from there she became a nurse which made it possible for her to take care of herself and a young child.

But back to the house in the country.  The house was paid in full by insurance when Daddy died and that was a huge relief for my mother, I'm sure; not having a house mortgage hanging over her head.  There were 10 acres attached to the house that was ours as well and my mother worked hard to keep her yard pristine while as a child I was allowed to explore; climbing trees and sweeping the leaves  and pine needles at the edge of the woods into the shape of an imaginary house.  Now,  after the death of my mother,  my sister and I have found ourselves in the midst of cleaning out the entire house and preparing it for sale.
                                        This is the house in the country that I grew up in.
                           Even the way the shadows of the trees fall across the lawn make me nostalgic.

My sister never lived in this house as she was already married at the time we moved in.  As for me, the house is a collection of a million memories.  Every room, every item, it's all attached to a memory of some sort and I must admit that I never knew how difficult it would be to go through everything and see the rooms emptied out little by little.
Seeing everything being removed from the house I grew up in makes me feel so empty.  All I can remember are all of the festivities that took place there.  Holiday celebrations and dinners, watching the first man walk on the moon, sitting in front of the fireplace warming up after a high school football game.
The kitchen.  Where everything took place.  We didn't just eat at that bar but had many conversations, made holiday goodies, dyed Easter eggs and did homework.  That kitchen always smelled so good.  From the food that could be found on the stove to the fresh flowers cut from outside sitting in a vase nearby.

While my sister works to get things organized (because she is the organizer), I find a box of papers or photographs or even my old report cards and receipts from my wedding and there I sit...reminiscing.  And I totally can't believe my mother, by keeping all of these things over the years, left me little treasures everywhere.  So, I suppose through the sadness, you could say, I have found a bit of joy and excitement each time I  find something I thought I would never see again.  Two treasures I found on one of my last visits was a box with my school year books.  I for sure thought that those were long gone.  And the other, a box of records.  OK, for you out there who are not familiar with "records" let me stop here and give you a little lesson.  There used to be record shops where we would take our allowance and peruse all of the biggest hits of the day and purchase some to take home to listen to on our record player over and over and over again until our parents came to the door and said, "If you play that song one more time!"  So, now that you are up to speed...I found a box of records!  And I was so excited that I pulled my sister in there and I told her I was definitely keeping all of them.  And Hubby (whom I was totally driving crazy by now because of my reminiscing and not actively working) said, "Ummm...I hate to break this to you but you don't have a record player to play them on."  At which point my sister said, "But I do."  And in the midst of all the sadness a smile spread across my face and I said, "YES!  And we are going to get together and play them and have a dance party!."  At which point a smile spread across my sister's face too.  And Hubby...well, what could he possibly say to that?  He knew it was true...we would be having a dance party while listening to the tunes of the 70's.  And our mother had just given me not only another treasure but she had given us both the gift to smile again.
My bedroom.  Almost completely empty now once was a vibrant place and very important part of my life.  At one time I can remember everything being purple.  The fuzzy rug beside my white French Provincial bed and the bedspread on it.  The white rotary phone that sat on my nightstand and at the foot of the bed a cedar chest where I would place my makeup mirror and sit on the floor while putting on wild colors of eyeshadow and listening to the Bee Gees.

This house.  I grew up in it.  Ran through the freshly cut grass barefooted and got stickers in my feet, laid on the ground and watched the clouds turn from one thing into another, pulled up the loose pieces of parquet flooring in the living room while lying there listening to Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas".  Sat in the kitchen waiting for my mama to make fried okra and eggplant...oh, and chicken and dumplings.  Had  my first sleep-over, first boyfriend, my first job and car.  Went through elementary school and my adolescence, played records in my room with my friends, got in trouble for talking way too long on the telephone.  Got engaged and married.  And even when I moved out on my own, the house was still there for me to come to any time I wanted to.  My mother was there with open arms all the time.  She was always ready for a talk or to feed me or take me outside to see her flowers blooming.  And I miss that.  All of that.  I suppose it's true what people say about not knowing how much you are going to miss someone or something until they are not there.  But these treasures that I have found have truly been gifts.  Gifts that she knew one day I would open while cleaning out her things.  And every time I find another one, I say, "Thank you, Mama...I'm so glad you thought to keep this for me."